In a couple of day I'll be seventy five years old, and the only thing I can say is that I'm surprised I'm still among the living. As a teenager, I didn't expect to live beyond forty or fifty. More than half the people who were with me in school and college are dead. Most relatives who were born around the time I was born are also dead. 

It's normal for aged people like myself to suddenly turn to religion, as an 80-year old male cousin of mine has done. I'm not a religious man myself, so I'm not scared of death. And I've lived a blameless life (I've never smoked nor have ever tasted the forbidden drink), so I've nothing to worry about.

My only regret is that I've not led a productive life. I should have gone into social work, but that would have meant giving up a lot of time (I've always preferred to read and write whenever I have the time).

Unlike most of my relatives, I never went after money. I could have made millions when I was a construction engineer in an oil company. Instead, I preferred to work hard. I took up part time teaching in the engineering college from where I graduated and I used to make petroleum storage tanks after working hours for oil and chemical factories, besides holding a regular 9 to 5 job. When my boss's boss heard what I was doing to make ends meet, he was amazed. He had been told that like most Pakistani engineers, I too was taking money from contractors. He encouraged me to continue teaching. What a contrast to the reaction of my Memon relatives who would say, "You are a teacher! Are you mad?" In fact, a male relative (now no longer among us) used to refer to me contemptuously as "master sahib". But when a Shiite Customs Superintendent learned (from a woman colleague of mine in NED College) that I'd been a lecturer, he used to get up and offer me his chair to sit on whenever I visited him (even though he was much older than me), saying "I can't sit when a professor is standing in my presence." I should mention here that in government departments, chairs were either broken or missing, and visitors had to stand while waiting for the Collector to call them into his cabin.

Today I attended the funeral of a distant male relative who died at the age of 77. He never did a day's work in his life, having been left property worth billions which he had rented out. I doubt if I spoke to him more than a couple of times in his entire life. That's because I didn't know what to talk about whenever he or his brother were nearby. They never had to face challenges, they always had whatever they wanted and they never knew what it meant to be poor. I'm so glad my life has been different.